Growing your favorite plants, herbs, and flowers in hydroponic systems has many advantages, including indoor growing and exclusion of soil-bourne diseases. However, some systems might be a bit too complex for beginners and require a lot of your attention. Good news though, we might have a solution for you in the simplest form of hydroponics yet – Kratky hydroponics!
The Kratky method is easy to set up for your indoor garden, and the best thing is that it’s a passive method. It doesn’t require an air stone, any electric devices, or air pumps. So, if you would like to learn how the Kratky method works to have a high yield in an effortless way of gardening, stay tuned!
How Does Kratky Hydroponics Work?
Growing plants with the Kratky method is arguably the most straightforward way of hydroponic gardening, and it’s also the easiest one to get a grasp of. One of its main advantages, when compared to recirculating hydroponic systems, is that you don’t have to change the nutrient solution, or refill the tank.
So, you’ll be pre-calculating the needed water and nutrient solution for the entire growth cycle of the plant. The beauty of this system is how the plants receive their needed share of oxygen and expand their roots.
As plants are placed on top of the growth container in net pots, their roots start absorbing the nutrient solution in the reservoir below the lid. As the plants grow, their roots will start drinking up the nutrients and therefore lower the water level in the reservoir.
At this point, there will be a layer of air in the upper section of the reservoir and the roots will get enough aeration. It’s the golden combination of hydroponics to create a pocket of moist air to oxygenate the roots, while still feeding them with the nutrient solution below. The Kratky hydroponic system takes care of everything for you, so with the addition of time, your plant will get everything it needs for steady growth.
Once the water level reduces and the air pocket is created, the plant’s roots will extend downwards to reach the nutrients. So, it entices an extremely fast growth, especially with leafy greens.
You can grow all sorts of plants with Kratky hydroponics – from leafy greens to herbs, mints, and veggies like tomatoes. You just need to adjust the system in terms of the reservoir size and amount of nutrient water needed for the growth cycle of different plants.
Setting Up The Kratky Method Components
Before you start growing plants with the Kratky method, it’s time for us to deal with building the system. Luckily, it’s fairly easy to set up this form of a hydroponic system, so let’s jump straight into the needed items:
- Nutrient reservoir
- Net pots
- Growing medium
With the Kratky hydroponic growing method, you won’t need to bother using all the air pumps, tubing, timers, and similar equipment. So, let’s get into how building the system works by starting with the most important aspect – the growth tank.
Getting The Reservoir Ready
The size of your reservoir is the most important thing since once you get all the nutrients and water in, there’s no refilling the tank. So, make sure to consider the needs of specific types of plants and how much nutrient water they’ll need to properly develop.
For example, you can use a mason jar for something as small as herbs. However, chances are that you’ll need a proper growth container for larger plants. One option that I’d certainly recommend is getting a 5-gallon bucket from Home Depot.
Now, once you’ve got the buckets, you’ll also have to make a proper mix of hydroponic fertilizer depending on the plant type and place the seedling of your plant into a net pot with a growing medium.
Net Cups – Perfect For The Kratky Method
To make sure that your plant grows properly in this system, you’ll have to get a net cup. As we said, you’ll be placing the seedling in a net cup filled with a growing media to give it enough stability, and to allow the roots through to reach the nutrient water below.
You can find net cups in your local gardening store or online and there are different sizes for different types of plants. You might want to gently pull the roots through the holes at the bottom of net cups, so they can expand downwards without being intertwined.
Why Is The Lid Important?
Logically, the lid serves to hold the plant’s cup in place on top of the nutrient container. However, it also serves a different purpose in the Kratky method. It prevents the nutrient solution evaporation and creates a closed system.
The usual lid type for the Kratky hydroponic system is just an ordinary plastic lid. You can also use a styrofoam lid which creates good isolation so the air gap below it remains moist enough once the plant’s roots start drinking up the water.
Water And Nutrients
The Kratky method works well with any sort of nutrient solution, and different NPK ratios and ingredients depend on the plants entirely. To set up the system, you’ll need to put the effort into calculating the amount of water and nutrient solution that your plant needs.
It’s probably the trickiest thing about the Kratky method, and you should carefully calculate the water amount and nutrients as you won’t be adding more throughout the process. You must allow the lower section of the net pot to be completely under the water level.
Because of this, you’ll entice the seedling roots to grow, as the nutrients are transferred through the growing medium initially. The water level will decline over time as the nutrients are absorbed by the roots.
Best Growing Media To Use With the Kratky Method
Along with the diversity of hydroponic nutrients that go well with the Kratky method, you can also count on a wide array of growing mediums. One growing medium that’s particularly convenient for Kratky hydroponics is coconut coir, as it’s pH neutral and extremely stable to support the seedlings.
You can also use Rockwool, clay pebbles, and perlite – the choice is completely up to you. You should place the seedlings directly into net pots filled with a growing medium of your choice to make this hydroponic system sustainable for undeveloped plants. As the plants grow, you’ll find the roots expanding deep towards the bottom of the tank.
Even at this point, the growing mediums still serve a crucial role in the system as they hold the plant and the roots in place.
Best Plants To Grow With Kratky Hydroponics
The Kratky method is perfect if you want to grow plants indoors, but depending on the size of your system, you might be able to grow even larger plants with extremely high yields. After all, this method is even used in commercial growing, even though it’s not as frequent in this agriculture sector as aquaponics and NFT hydroponics.
So, if you want to know about the best fruiting plants and veggies to grow with the Kratky method, here’s a list of a few of the best options:
- Cherry tomatoes
- Collard greens
- Spring onions
Now, you’ll have to understand the nature of the Kratky method to get a bigger picture of what you can grow with it. Leafy greens and small veggies and herbs that don’t require much water are perfect options.
However, you might have a bit of an issue with cucumbers, onions, and root vegetables that need more water and more space for the roots to expand. However, if you buy a container that’s large enough and pre-calculate the amount of water and nutrients needed, it’s possible to grow larger tomatoes than just cherry species, along with cucumbers and even carrots!
Why Is It The Best Method For Home Growers?
The Kratky system is just pure joy for those who might be a bit lazy or just don’t have enough time to constantly check on the system. Once you set it up, there are no additional worries that come along until the fruiting season.
Even after the harvest, you can still use the same system for planting more veggies and herbs. Just remember to occasionally wipe the system clean and wash it after a few growing cycles.
Well, as we reach the end of our journey through explaining the Kratky method of hydroponics, it is quite clear – this is one of the easiest systems for indoor growing.
It requires minimum effort, and you can get your favorite leafy greens and veggies ready for your salad or upcoming cooking endeavors quite fast. The Kratky system lets you use simple items like a mason jar to grow plants that are small enough to fit inside.
So, it’s the perfect introduction to more complex hydroponic systems, and one of the go-to options for home growers!
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ):
What can you grow with the Kratky method?
With the Kratky method, you can grow various kinds of smaller plants that don’t require much space for root spreading and water. So, some of the best options include leafy greens, cherry tomatoes, and herbs.
How often do you change the water in the Kratky method?
One of the best things about the Kratky method of hydroponics is that you don’t have to change the water during the growing cycle. Gardeners should pre-calculate the amount of water and nutrients needed, and the water level should be nearly dried out as the growing cycle reaches its end.
What do you need for Kratky hydroponics?
The setup of the Kratky method is one of the simplest out there in the world of hydroponic systems. You just need a growing container, some net cups, nutrients, growing media, and the lid to prevent the nutrients from evaporating.